Thursday, December 18, 2008

When To Play The 'Rudy' Card

The word "Rudy" from the movie of the same name has become synonymous with the slow clap from 80s teen movies. It's a sappy movie device that has been elevated to legendary pop status and is good for a cheap laugh among friends. I find myself using the word "Rudy" often in everyday life. Like when a co-worker can't seem to get the coffee filter in right the first time, I begin to chant "Rudy, Rudy, Rudy" until he or she gets it right or walks away in frustration. And if they do end up walking away, that's when I lay into them with a little pep talk from Charles "The Roc" Dutton.

Oh you are so full of crap. You're five foot nothin', a hundred and nothin' and you hung in with the best college football team in the land for two years. And you were also going to walk out of here with a degree from the University of Notre Dame. In this life time you don't have to prove nothing to nobody except yourself and after what you gone through. If you haven't done that by now, it ain't gonna never happen, now go on back.

Because of this fun little game, I've never really taken Rudy seriously. It's always been a gag to me. Yes, the story is nice. And yes the movie makes you feel all warm and cuddly inside. But I get that same feeling from a Benji movie. But all this changed the other night as I drove my son home in the bitter cold as he had just finished a basketball tournament. And boy was he bitter.

My son is tall. And he's built like a tank. This has served him well for basketball. He gets under the basket, no one gets all up in his grill, he shoots the ball, he makes the basket, parents stand and cheer and my son ends up with a nice ice cream cone when all is said and done. This year my son decided to step it up a bit and play in a more competitive league. And with that comes more... um.... competition. I don't know that my son had planned for that part. These kids are fast and they call plays like "number 1" and they can really shoot the ball and my son is playing on a new team with lots of boys he's never played with before. And some boys who have never played basketball before. All of these issues came to a head as I drove him home last Sunday night.

In the last game of the tournament, my son had been pitted up against a boy twice his size and three times his weight. Needless to say, my son was intimidated by this. Not unlike the time I played football my freshman year of high school and looked across the line and saw a lineman with a full mustache. Those are scary times.

As a parent, times like these are tough. You want to be sympathetic, but you also want to kick them in the ass a bit. In my working life, I deal with a lot of young-uns that don't appreciate hard work and I'll be damned if I allow my son to follow that path. Because of this belief, I will always err on the side of hard-assness which I usually regret later on. So there I was, being a man and thinking I had to fix this right then and there. To put these feelings to bed. But how? And that's when Rudy popped into my head like a big bright shiny beacon.

I asked my son if he knew Rudy? Who? Rudy, I said again. My son answered "no" and that's when it all started. I told my son the story of Rudy. How hard he worked. How he overcame incredible odds to play on the football team he had always wanted. How he was five feet nothin' and weighed a hundred and nothin'. Charles "The Roc" Dutton's words flowed beautifully from my mouth. How if someone didn't play hard enough, Rudy would go after him and chew his butt no matter how big the guy was. Rudy didn't make excuses. He just played as hard as he could.

My son quieted down after that. Maybe he understood, maybe he was tired, maybe he was thinking about butterflies. I have no idea. But one thing's for sure, my son and I are going to be watching Rudy very soon. And I'll be viewing it through new eyes.


Burbanked said...

Great story. Good luck to your son; I sometimes worry about my boys getting into sports because they've been saddled with a dad who is about the least-sports inclined man to walk the planet (and if I'm not the biggest sports loser in the USA, I'm certainly the least inclined in Pittsburgh).

I thought your post was going to culminate in this inspirational video that's been making the rounds lately. If you haven't seen it, take a look.

Anonymous said...

Not all of us young-uns around here are lazy. Some of us work our tails off....

PIPER said...


Thanks. Glad you read it. I was thinking about you and your boys when I wrote it. This post is in line with my Bobby Fisher story.


Fess up. Do you work with me?

drofnad said...

While I don't know where you are coming from as a parent, I do understand the need to play as hard as you can, no matter what you're up against. I've always felt that there's no need to show up to the game if you aren't going to give it your all. And while I think there are some people out there who don't live this way, for the most part I'd like to believe that people always try their best.

That being said, I am a young-un that you get to deal with regularly at work. And I'd like to think that you don't place me in the category of young-uns that don't appreciate hard work. But truth be told, I think that most of us here work our asses off.

This is an industry where you can't really get away with half-assing projects. You can't give up easily. You have to fight or you just won't survive it all. If you aren't a Rudy in this industry, you may as well not show up to the game at all.

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I agree with drofnad. But I also think that there are people in this industry that somehow miraculously get by with doing less and still make it up the ladder.

I don't consider myself one of them, and I hope that you don't either. Because if that's the case, then WHAT have I been doing the last 29 weekends of my life?

PIPER said...

drofnad and alamoee,

This post was not meant to be a veiled shot a people not carrying their weight. If you indeed work with me and work with me on a regular basis you should know then that I pull no punches and am upfront on everything. In short, passive/aggressive is not my style.

And I have been in this business coming up on 20 years now and in that time I have seen my fair share of people that didn't try their hardest, so I wouldn't say that our business doesn't allow for that.

And to drofnad, I don't believe that everyone naturally tries their hardest. I know I don't all the time and when I don't I find myself coming up with excuses - much like my son was doing. And if I don't check him in those instances, he could follow that path his entire life. And I will say that my generation (that being Generation X) as well as the following generation have an inherant "I deserve this" mentality. Lord knows I too was like this and I was lucky enough that there were people around to call me on it.

And then I will say that I have the privilege of working with a great group of people. Young uns and older ones.

drofnad said...

I realize that I came off as an optimist in my previous comment. That I think everyone tries their best. That was extremely uncharacteristic of me. Wowzers.

Anonymous said...

LOL The poor boy not only has his own expectations coupled with his father's expectations ... he now has all of ours as well. And he'd better do well, or else I'm going to call him the B-word.

Great story, Piper.

Megan said...

I don't know if he still does it, but my brother's high school got a visit from the real Rudy once...he had a little career as an inspirational speaker.

He didn't go to the girls schools though. :(

Anonymous said...

This is to all the "young-uns" who work with Pat.

I've worked with many CDs over the years and he cares about the creatives he works with as much as anyone I've ever worked with.

It's a pleasure to come to work every day knowing Pat Piper is bringing his passion and talent to the office.

PIPER said...


Thanks. I'll have to pass along I wrote about my son. He'll be so mortified, he probably won't speak to me for a month - which might be a good thing.


Do you realize how many women Rudy would have gotten had he made the rounds with the all school girls circuit. A catholic boy that works hard and plays for Notre Dame. Damn, that's some good pick-up material right there.


Thank you.

Burbanked said...

I'm seeing this comment thread in a whole new light, Piper.

Are you currently accepting resum├ęs?

PIPER said...

Sure. I think I'm getting fired.

Anonymous said...

@Burbanked The non-sports genetic pool your kids came from may not hinder them in sports. My dad's only sport was competitive unicycling (Kid you not, there was a league of sorts back in the 50's), and mom has a hard time walking a straight line (no she doesn't drink). I ended up running track, curling, and cross crounty sking at decent level. My brother made it to the Juniors in hockey. Unicycling is still my prefered sport though...

I remember loving rudy when I first saw the film. Haven't seen it in years, my have to go to the rental store on the way home.

PIPER said...


If my post can get one person to rent Rudy, then I've done my job. And hopefully I'll reap some kind of royalties from it. Like a nice Notre Dame jacket.

Anonymous said...

Great post Pat. My Dad went to Notre Dame. I knew the Rudy story before the Rudy movie from talks with my dad, just like the one you had with Gabe. I'm sure he heard you. And he'll remember.

Joel Bocko said...

"Not unlike the time I played football my freshman year of high school and looked across the line and saw a lineman with a full mustache."


That aside, what is this "industry" which keeps being referred to in vague terms? You're not a CIA agent are you, Piper?

PIPER said...


As a matter of fact, I am in the CIA. And now that you've guessed, I'm going to have to find out where you live and kill you. I'm sorry about this.

Actually, I work in advertising and completely unbeknownst to me, people at my agency actually read my blog. As a result, I pissed off a few people with my comments. And by the way, what they hell are they doing reading my blog and not working anyways?

Joel Bocko said...

As Michael Richards and others have learned in this day and age, never say (write) anything and assume you're being unheard (unread) (though this is, of course, doubly true when you're making racist jokes to a live audience...)

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